Lazy (but easy) Cooking

The weather has been downright nasty these last few days. I did manage to get down to Winchester on Sunday for their Christmas Market. The weather, despite the storm that raged through the night before, held off and it wasn’t too bad to walk around! The market is much smaller than Bath, but honestly, it felt less chaotic despite the crowds and it seemed to work well with the regular Sunday market on the high street. Parking is also free on Sundays at the city-owned lots!

That being said, cold, rainy weather needs decent, cosy food, right? Waitrose Weekend paper recipe to the rescue again!

Recipe is here too (obviously geared towards Waitrose branded products, but use what you have, right?):

Serves 4 – cooking time approx 20 minutes

  • 450g pack beef mince
  • 1 onion (I omitted this – I hate onions – I used a dash of onion powder)
  • 2tsp chilli powder
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes (I used passata instead – I hate tomatoes in chunks!)
  • 400g can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 250g dried Tortiglioni pasta (I used 1 package of spiral pasta that I had in my pantry)
  • 75g mature cheddar cheese, grated

Brown the mince and the onion until cooked. Stir in chilli powder and cook for another minute.

Stir in beans, tomatoes, and stock. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.

While this is mince, beans, etc. is cooking, cook the pasta for about 10 minutes or until tender.  Once done, drain and add to the mince and tomatoes mixture. Thoroughly mix, then transfer to an oven-proof baking dish and place under a pre-heated grill for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and browned!

Easy peasy! Now, put cosy sweats and thick socks on, make a plate, and chill with a Netflix binge…

 

This post is not sponsored by Waitrose, but I use them more often than not because it’s within walking distance of my house and their weekend paper often has some hidden gems of recipes inside!

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Dog Coats

So, about a month ago, I posted on my favourite US-based dog coat company, Voyagers K9 Apparel. The company does contests on occasion and I was lucky enough to win a new collar for Angus! And since I was going to the US anyway, I went ahead and ordered a new ORANGE fleece house coat/tummy warmer for him too. Woot! The collar and fleece were waiting for me when I arrived at my friend’s house and save me £30 in shipping/customs having it sent to the UK!

Then, I was lucky enough to have a friend win a new raincoat – also in ORANGE – and she was kind enough to gift it to me since her dogs already had coats! Guess what I had when I came home?!?! And Angus looks amaze-balls. Plus, he’s no longer cammo dog on our outdoor adventures, blending into the background. My friend is awesome for gifting the coat to him. Really. And I know he’ll have it for life.

Angus really doesn’t like wearing coats, but I do feel better knowing he’ll stay dry when it’s pouring this winter and the raincoat can easily be layered over the fleece if the temperatures really drop.

Slow Week

I was in the US this past week to renew my driver’s license and visit friends. The trip turned out to be a good time, albeit quicker than I imagined, as suddenly it was time to go home!

I flew on Virgin Atlantic this time and wow. Impressed. Maybe I was just lucky with the crew I had on my flight, but having to get up at a god-forsaken hour of the morning to catch the bus to Heathrow for an early morning flight (I wanted to be in the US at a reasonable time, as when I arrived, I still had a 3 hour – or more – drive ahead of me), the entire flight crew was friendly and pleasant. This started at check-in and lasted until we landed in Atlanta. Like, so pleasant, I actually commented to the crew about it. Something I have not done in *years.* Years! Rental car on arrival was a bit of a kerfluffle, but in the larger scheme of things, the melt-down I had was likely due to stress and being tired.

Ahhh, Atlanta. Your traffic is horrid. Horrid. For a Friday evening, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, but well, yeah. And the weather – whilst somewhat expecting warmer temps, I wasn’t 100% sure it was accurate, so I still packed a few light weight sweaters and long sleeved shirts. It was almost 80F/26c when I landed. Over the weekend in South Carolina, it was about 75F/24c! Sunny. Sunny. Sunny. And not a bit of a breeze. But having fun at a dog event and the associated banquet was great!

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Then Monday, driving *back* through Atlanta to Birmingham (Alabama) it was still warm. Passing through three states, however, looked like scorched earth. Asking a few people, it hadn’t rained in months – maybe a bit before the hurricane blew through and maybe a bit after, but literally no rain. The leaves on the trees weren’t brown and coloured due to it being November – they were just dead. The grass was beyond crunchy and hard as a rock.

Alabama. Fun. I got to see friends, ate at a great new little quick Mexican restaurant with sangria and made several huge Target runs, then back to Atlanta and home. Oh, there was a bit of an election thing that happened on Tuesday too. Somehow, I managed to survive the entire trip with no jet-lag until I got back! Unfortunately, I’ve been paying for it for 2 days now. But the dogs are glad to have me home.

Weekend Wear

Ahh, pre-weekend wear. Some 80% of my clothes have come from JCrew. While it’s a fairly new brand in the UK, I’ve been shopping with them since I was at uni some 10,000 years ago. Originally very classic, basic, go-to pieces, they have been much trendier in the last few years and have even started making appearances during NYFW. They also have great sales if you’re patient! Just remember, all sizing is US. Autumn suddenly appeared, so I tried this to kick off the weekend with some classics.

Autumn suddenly appeared, so I tried this to kick off the weekend with some classics.

Raynor chinos come in several colours, and a basic Tippi merino with 3/4 sleeves that comes in solids, stripes, and assorted patterns each season. I’m still trying to perfect the #ootd but hey, dark khaki and grey = classic weekend and perfect for dinner out with friends or the pub!

 

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Pants/Trousers: Raynor from JCrew; Sweater: Tippi from Jcrew; Loafers from JCrew (old); Tote in background from Zara (old)

 

Winter is Coming

No really, it is, on 21 December. I’m guessing it will try and creep its way in on and off from the end of October. For most dogs, if you need a coat, they need a coat. Granted, a husky may be more amenable to freezing temperatures, but at a bare minimum, every dog wants to stay dry in the rain, right? All dogs should at least have some basic protection from the rain – plus it’s less to clean up and wipe down after those morning and evening walks.

Greyhounds do not fit “off the rack” coats that most people would get from a local pet shop due to their unique body shape. Narrow bodies, thick necks, long backs, and deep chests make store bought coats impossible. Anything long enough will be too wide or too tight in the chest; fitted in the chest will be too short and barely go half-way down the spine. I will try and spare you my obsession of colour-coordinating and assigning a “colour” to each dog…

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Voyagers K9 coats (top to bottom): winter coat, tummy warmer/housecoat, rain coat

My go-to coat source is Voyagers K9 Apparel in Minnesota. Voyagers makes custom fit coats for greyhounds, whippets, and a number of other breeds so the coat you get will fit your dog. They can even whip up custom coats for your mixed-breed and do custom colours to suit your university or favourite sports team! The prices and quality are excellent, and they all wash up very well if your dogs happen to get muddy like mine. The only downside if you live in the UK is the cost of shipping from the US.

In the UK, there are good choices and brands of custom fit coats for greyhounds, lurchers, whippets, and the like. When I first got Angus, I ordered him a raincoat from GreytSweaters who make custom fit coats for greyhounds and whippets. His is a really bright orange colour you can see from a distance (important when your dog’s natural colouring is cammo), trimmed nicely, and very well made overall. The only thing that’s a bit tough is that because Angus is a very “thick” muscular dog, the neck on the coat could be about 1-2″ wider. For a normal greyhound, it should be fine.

 

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GreytSweaters orange raincoat

 

AK Creations makes lovely custom-fit winter coats, raincoats, and housecoats for greyhounds in a variety of colour options. For standard sized dogs, if you want a coat that can handle the brambles and wet of a countryside walk, I’d chose Barbour. Their dog coats are made from the same waxed canvas as the coat in your closet, so you know it will last season after season. Again, value for money. Mine have their coats and barring some weird accident, they should last for years and years.

And because it gets darker sooner, don’t forget to clip a blinking light to your dog’s collar and/or leash for evening walks! Most can be found cheap for under £5 at the local pet shop or outdoor store. Use them year after year as they only take cheap watch batteries. A safety yellow or hunter orange vest is also a good idea if you’re out in the countryside for daytime walks! The fit on the vests doesn’t have to be perfect as long as your dog can be spotted in the distance; they normally come in stretchy lycra or mesh material with or without velcro closures.